Thursday, November 02, 2006

Tonight's Games (Nov 2)

Buffalo at Boston 7:00 PM
Montreal at Carolina 7:00 PM
Tampa Bay at Philadelphia 7:00 PM
Toronto at Florida 7:30 PM
NY Islanders at New Jersey 7:30 PM
Vancouver at Minnesota 8:00 PM
Colorado at St. Louis 8:00 PM
Detroit at Chicago 8:30 PM
NY Rangers at San Jose 10:30 PM

Game of the Night

Nine games on the schedule tonight and if I could only pick one it would be a toss-up between Montreal-Carolina and Vancouver-Minnesota. After watching the Canes light it up against Atlanta, I'm curious to see how they fare against the Habs so let's go with that one.

Carolina got off to a very slow (0-3-1) start but seem to have recovered nicely. Since that point they have averaged over 4 goals a game and have won 6 of 9. What makes the Canes so dangerous is that they have two lines that are extremely dangerous - Staal with Walker and Williams and Brind'Amour with Cole and Whitney. These six players have combined for 30 goals so far which is more goals than New Jersey, Philadelphia, Boston, St. Louis, Columbus, Calgary, LA and Phoenix have scored the whole year (note this was written while the late games were just getting started). Cam Ward hasn't exactly put up Vezina Trophy-type numbers so far, but he did stop 40 shots in the win over Tampa. The Canes are going to need him to play like that more often in order to contend in the East.

Montreal showed the Sens that they are going to be a threat in the division this year, playing some great hockey in a 4-2 win. Montreal doesn't quite have the same explosiveness as Carolina, but they have two strong lines of their own with the Ryder-Koivu-Higgins line, and the newly formed Russian line. Montreal also has two defencemen who generate a great deal of offense in Souray and Markov. I'd expect that Aebsicher has earned another start as he clearly has played better in the early part of the year. Update: TSN is reporting that Huet will get the start tonight.

The Hurricanes will be playing their second game in two nights and are going for their third win in a row. The last time these two teams met, Cory Stillman scored on a long shot past Huet to knock the Habs out of the playoffs. This may help to motivate the Canadiens, who led that series 2-0 and likely feel that if Koivu hadn't gotten hurt they would have beaten the eventual champs. Look for the Canadiens to wear down the tired Canes and put them away in the third.

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